CNS vs. NP

  1. Hello everyone! I am interested in hearing your opinions about my situation. I graduated May 2006. I started working on a cardiac medical floor and hated it. I transferred to a cardiovascular thoracic recovery unit November 2006 and am enjoying it very much! It is my niche

    I have always planned on going back to school for a MSN...right now I am trying to decide what program to do. I am getting married this October and would like to start a program next spring. I plan on doing it part time so it will probably take me 3 years to complete it. I will work full time if possible so I would have about 5 years of RN experience.

    Right now I am torn between acute care nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist programs. I have researched both job descriptions and both are appealing. When looking at job openings on websites it seems that there are more openings for clinical nurse specialists. I think I will call nurse recruiters at the major hospitals and find out for sure.

    I feel like I need more experience to be a CNS because of staff development, education, etc. However, the CNS roles vary so much. By the time I finished the CNS program perhaps I would feel more competent?

    There are a lot of factors to consider. Any thoughts?
    Last edit by incublissRN on Feb 7, '07 : Reason: typo
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   juan de la cruz
    Hi! I am an ACNP employed in a similar unit where you currently work at. I finished my program in December 2004. It sounds like job opportunities in your area is swaying you more to the CNS role but you feel as if you are not ready to assume the "expert nurse" role often associated with a CNS.

    I personally think that the CNS role does require a lot of maturity as far as your professional knowledge and skills as well as your ability to interact with fellow nurses. However, NP roles can be the same way. You need to hone bedside assessment skills and understanding of physiological bases of medical interventions that patients require. It is true that a lot of this is learned in the NP program and can be read in books but the nurse who has first-hand experience in dealing with a variety of medical problems is better able to make quick decisions when situations call for them.

    Maybe the three years you are allotting for your MSN wil be enough to help you gain a certain amount of professional maturity to assume either CNS or NP roles. I know some people learn faster than others. But do give yourself more time to figure out which role would make you happier. Maybe you are just not seeing NP job openings in the area because they are not advertised and are spread through word of mouth.
  4. by   incublissRN
    pinoyNP,

    Thank you for your thoughts. You are right, the job opportunities are swaying my decision. Even though I would only have 1 year experience in cardiovascular thoracic recovery (plus 6 months cardiac medical prior to that) before I start grad school, I think that by the end of the 3 year program I would be somewhat competent because I would still be working. I feel like I become more competent every day at work. I think I would feel more competent as a ACNP at that time rather than a CNS. I could always do a postmasters CNS program later on.

    I will continue to think about this for many months. Thanks again for your thoughts, it helps me see things from a different perspective.

    BTW, I am looking at programs at IUPUI and Ball State University. At IUPUI, for admission to a nurse practitioner program you must have two years relevant nursing experience by the admission review deadline. So that delays my plans somewhat. Applicants for CNS have no practice requirements. Weird? The practice requirements for Ball State is 1 year of clinical experience before enrolling in clinical courses.

    So....I can become a CNS faster at IUPUI, or online at Ball State. Or I can wait it out and be an ACNP. I really wanted to get my MSN done before children entered the picture but that might not happen.

    I'm going to have to chew on this for a bit!


    incublissRN :smilecoffeeIlovecof
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Hi there incubliss. PinoyNP has some valid points. I'm an adult health CNS who graduated in May 06. At that time I had been an RN for 12 years. I did the CNS because in IL it would still allow me to be an advanced practice nurse with prescriptive authority and basically the same nurse practice act as an NP. I would not have been happy in a strictly CNS role. As I was going through the CNS program, I did almost all of my clinical time with an ACNP and loved it. The time that I did with the CNS was tedious at best. I think that it might be important for you to shadow both a CNS and ACNP to see the difference in roles in your state. For instance, in Georgia, CNS's are NOT advanced practice nurses, they are more the educator role. So..if moving is something that might occur, that might need to be factored in. BTW, I did an MSN in management and leadership and then did a post-MSN CNS certificate. It's important that you complete the education for the role that YOU want to do. Good luck.
  6. by   RNmydreams
    Hey TRAUMARUS,

    Thanks very much for your many posts and wealth of knowledge. I am very new to this site. It is my dream to become a RN. I am currently active duty air force and I will be separating from the military in the next few months. I have been trying to get as many prerequisites complete as possible. Right now I am a single parent because my husband and I are geographically separated because of the military. I see that you were a LPN first. Because I have a young child (10 months) and I will be relocating to GA in a few months. I was thinking because I have not yet complete all of my prereqs for an ADN or BSN would it be beneficial for me to become a LPN first. It will allow me to get into the work force faster and start building my nursing resume. I am 29 and my ultimate goal is to become an APN. What are your views on becoming a LPN as a stepping stone into the RN field? Thanks!


    RNmydreams!!!!
  7. by   EMAJA1827
    do that. it will take you a year to do it in most states. you will get a whiff of what this whole deal is all about. let me tell you something..all nursing schools are tough as heck! it does not matter where you go. the concepts are the same tough. so buckle up. it will also allow you to earn a nice living while you persue you associates or BSN which would take you longer if you skip the lpn part. at least 2-4 yrs depending on what you decide. lpn is only 12 months. good luck.
  8. by   Whispera
    To incublissRN....I was faculty at IU South Bend for a long time and wonder if you can start taking courses toward your Master's before you're admitted to a specific program. At IUSB a student could take a couple of classes as a non-degree grad student for just that purpose. Then, when he got admitted, they could be applied to the degree. I took 2 courses that way. There are quite a few courses that both CNSs and NPs have to take that are the same.....theory, research, assessment, pharm. And, do you have statistics under your belt yet? If I was you, I'd talk to IUPUI about it, especially if you want to begin before you have your experience years completed, and you're leaning toward the NP track, and want IUPUI or Ball State.

    By the way, when I went to grad school (at Valparaiso University--I'm saying its name since you seem to be a Hoosier), those who got a Masters in nursing graduated with a CNS (everyone) and some went on to become NPs. The NP was an add-on certificate. You can PM me if you'd like and I'll spill my brain for you....
    Last edit by traumaRUs on Aug 20, '09 : Reason: Please don't include email addys in posts. Thanks.

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